Food packaging comes in a wide variety of methods. Almost any type of packaging you can imagine has been used for foods today. Some foods are flash frozen to keep them fresh and tasting good, while others are freeze dried and placed in airtight containers to protect them from contamination. Food packaging is often a science of making the materials look attractive to the consumer, while at the same time keeping the food fresh and easy to eat.
Home Canned Foods
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, one of the oldest and most common methods of food packaging in homes is the use of home canning. Fruits and vegetables are placed in glass jars and sealed in the jars by heating the jars and then placing a rubber stopped jar top on the jar. Historically, home canning was one of the first methods that were used to store foods in large quantities, particularly in rural areas where farms were abundant. Some of the concerns with this type of food packaging include the cleanliness of the jars when food is placed in them and that the fruits and vegetables are thoroughly cooked before canning. The seals also need to be airtight to prevent the growth of botulism.
Another common method of packaging food is freezing, according to Julie Garden-Robinson of North Dakota State University. Freezing can be done with a variety of methods. Most often, it is vegetables that are frozen, although berries and other fruits can also lend themselves to being frozen. When freezing vegetables, make sure that they are thoroughly clean and cooked if that is appropriate. Certain vegetables are not good candidates for freezing. For example, tomatoes do not stand up well to freezing unless they are cooked and pureed. Corn stands up well to freezing without being precooked. In order to preserve the food completely, make sure that the package is airtight to prevent freezer burn which can ruin the food.
Canning foods as a method of food processing have been around since the mid-1800s. In the early days of canned foods, lead was used to line the cans and seal the top of the can. This, unfortunately, resulted in deaths as lead poisoning occurred. However, with improved technology, safely canned foods became more abundant and the industry of food packaging expanded extensively. According to the National Center for Food Preservation, foods that are canned commercially are cooked prior to being placed in the can in order to prevent E. coli contamination. Canned foods come in a wide variety, ranging from meat to vegetables to fruit to refrigerated bread dough.
One of the innovative methods of commercial food packaging is foil wrapping. Foil wraps are often pouches that are filled and then the bottom and top of the pouch is sealed with a heat seal similar to those used with commercial frozen packaging. According to FreePatentsOnline, foil packaging allows the foods to be sealed in the package without losing any residual moisture that may still be in the food. The best foods to package in this manner are usually dried fruits, baked goods or grain products.
According to Jane Byme of Food Production Daily, a new innovation in commercial food packaging is the use of nanotechnology in order to make packaging thinner and biodegradable. According to Byme, this new technology allows commercial food processing companies to utilize packaging materials that reduce food gases, which delays how quickly they degrade and become inedible. For example, you can now purchase food storage bags that are “green” but also help you keep food fresher longer. This is an excellent way in which food storage and new techniques for food storage come together for mutual benefit.